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"Ideas of modesty, therefore, are altogether relative and conventional. Peoples who are accustomed to tattoo themselves are ashamed to appear untattooed ; peoples whose women are in the habit of covering their faces consider such a covering indispensable for every respectable woman ; peoples who for one reason or another have come to conceal the navel, the knee, the bosom, or other parts, blush to reveal what is hidden. It is not the feeling of shame that has provoked the covering, but the covering that has provoked the feeling of shame."--The History of Human Marriage (1891) by Edvard Westermarck

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Modesty comprises a set of culturally or religiously determined values that relate to the presentation of the self to others.

It can include:

  • Moderation in one's actions or appearance, not wishing to attract undue attention to oneself;
  • Downplaying one's accomplishments (see humility);
  • False or Sham modesty, a form of boasting through insincere self-abasement;
  • Modesty about sexuality and the display of the human body, especially taboos against nudity in many cultures.

Modesty in the arts

In some works of art, the depiction of nudity is reduced, in the interest of modesty, by the use of:

  • fig leaves
  • a piece of cloth (or something else) seemingly by chance covering the genitals
  • with regard to nudity in film, filming a supposedly nude person from the waist up (or from the shoulders up, for women)
  • in a movie, maneuvering (turning, having objects in front) and film editing in such a way that no genitals are seen
  • showing nudity from a distance
  • in a movie, showing nudity only briefly

In cartoons, even in cases where the genital area is not covered with clothing, genitals are often simply not drawn. In the film Barnyard, showing anthropomorphized cattle of both sexes walking on two legs, instead of either showing genitals of male cattle or not showing them, the concept of a "male cow" was used, with an udder. In Underdog a partly animated anthropomorphized dog is shown with penis when a real dog is filmed, and without penis in the animated parts.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Modesty" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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